To reuse a quote from a current Listener article about an ex-radio-host: “Officially, [she] left because it was time to move on … If there were other factors, [she] is remaining tight-lipped.”
Sue Leader, departing executive director of InternetNZ, denies there is any significant negative aspect to the job that would make her glad to leave.
Leader, who joined the organisation in 1998, announced her resignation at the weekend and finishes up at the end of next month.
She doesn’t think the InternetNZ hierarchy is being dishonest in its praise of her or in voicing regrets at her departure.
There was the episode where treasurer Steven Heath lambasted supposed shortcomings in Leader’s financial management and temporarily resigned in protest at the InternetNZ council’s reaction, but she dismisses this as minor.
“I have never had any major differences with the councillors, and have had positive feedback from them.”
They made it clear, she says, that she was free to apply for the restructured job - more like a true fully accountable chief executive - that will succeed the complex role that she had. The council will take on more of the governance role.
She says she resigned because it was time for a change.
“I really can’t put my finger on it. I’m reluctant to say I’m running out of energy, but four-and-a-half years has been a long time to be involved. I enjoy building things up,” she says.
And perhaps InternetNZ has reached the stage of maturity where the job has less of this aspect, “though I can’t see this job ever becoming tedious”.
Leader has made a number of visits to various parts of the world to participate in the debates around the evolution of Icann, the new world internet body. For her there has been an emphasis on championing the rights of country-code top-level-domain controlling organisations (ccTLDs) within an Icann structure that seemed initially too far balanced toward the generic domains like .com, .net, .biz and .info.
“We seem to have got through to Icann and the US government now,” she says.
At the most recent meeting, in Shanghai “there was not the feeling that we were beating our heads against a brick wall any more. It leaves me feeling very positive”.
She has no full-time new position, but still wants to be involved in the internet, particularly the broader social aspects outside management of the domain name space itself.
“Though I will regret losing contact with the ccTLD effort”.
A low point during her stint was probably a very tough Icann meeting in September last year, where “the ccTLD community hit a brick wall of lack of understanding from Icann, when we thought we’d been making real progress”.
This was followed immediately by the September 11 terrorist attacks and talk of increased government surveillance, which was threatening for a while “really to put the internet under stress”.
Leaving the position will give her more time to devote to an interest in open systems; she has recently been appointed president of Uniforum.
“I’ll have the chance to go back and update my Linux software.”